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    Here we are. After not happening in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and keeping tens of thousands of tailgaters at home, the Far Hills Races return Saturday. It’s the 100th running, so Happy Birthday or something but welcome back to the biggest meet on the National Steeplechase Association circuit.
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Short and sweet. Kentucky Derby winner Orb's workout Wednesday morning lasted all of 36 seconds, but brightened an otherwise gray, misty, humid morning at Fair Hill Training Center.

In his first breeze since finishing fourth in the Belmont Stakes, the 3-year-old colt went through some fairly standard paces - standing in for a spell by the gap near the eighth pole of the dirt track, backing up at a jog to the far turn, then jogging the right way around to the first turn before picking up a gallop. Regular rider Jenn Patterson let the son of Malibu Moon accelerate to the three-eighths pole, then sat perched in her stirrups - still, quiet, hands down on his shoulder near the yoke, no pressure on the reins. Orb did the rest, streaking through the stretch with his ears pricked and galloping strongly past the wire as his ears flicked around for cues.

He went faster than it seemed and was barely blowing back at the barn afterward. As usual, Patterson marveled at the feeling. Orb is quick, even if he doesn't feel like it.

"He's been doing so well that I wasn't sure what he would do when he got a chance (to breeze)," she said. "He pulled up, took a deep breath and was fine. He does it so easily."

The only anxious moment came just past the wire when he skipped a stride while going past a cone - the "dogs" were up to protect the inside rail - to his inside.

Orb, who has been joined by three stablemates at Fair Hill (Imagining, Puzzling and Hungry Island) will probably breeze again next week before shipping to Saratoga where the Travers (Aug. 24) is the target set by trainer Shug McGaughey for the Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable homebred.

CLICK HERE for video of Orb's final furlong.

Video courtsy of Bruce Jackson at Fair Hill Equine Therapy Center.